West Midlands housing market 'near breaking point'
New figures released by the National Housing Federation (NHF) raise the spectre of an acute housing shortage in the West Midlands, with the market reaching "breaking point".According to the NHF's Home Truths 2014: West Midlands report, less than half (48 per cent) of the homes needed to meet rising demand in the region are currently being built. Some 17,800 households are expected to form each year up to 2021 but only 8,620 new homes were constructed during 2012/13. The region built the third-lowest amount of homes in the UK over the past year.As a result of the shortage, housing in the West Midlands is becoming increasingly unaffordable. Wages are failing to keep pace with house prices, which rose by 56 per cent between 2002 and 2012, and the average home now costs nearly nine times the average wage.Rents in the region have also risen dramatically, growing by 61 per cent between 2002 and 2012. It is estimated they will rise by another 39 per cent by 2020. Some local authorities have seen rents rise by seven per cent in the past year alone. The NHF says rising costs are also having an impact on the public purse. The number of people claiming housing benefit in the area has risen by 97 per cent since 2009, it claims - and much of the money goes to private landlords.Gemma Duggan, West Midlands external affairs manager for the National Housing Federation, said the present situation in the West Midlands poses a threat to businesses as well as households and could therefore impact the wider economy.She said Local Enterprise Partnerships should work with councils and housing associations to tackle the problem."Local people also have an important role to play," she added. "Those who want more housing in the West Midlands need to contact local councillors and say yes to homes."With more support, housing associations across the West Midlands can be real catalysts for change for local communities. They are in it for the long term and can actively drive forward a balanced economic recovery."
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